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Monday, June 16, 2014

10 Things Your Friends Wish You Knew

Thanks MarcandAngel!

Friends are the ones who know you as you are, understand where you have been, accept who you have become, and still encourage you to grow.  These people are special, and they should be treated as such.
Yet, sometimes you get so consumed with your own issues that you forget the basic principles of nurturing these relationships.  So it’s time to re-learn the little things you should know to help your friends smile wider as they walk beside you on the road of life.
Here are some friendly reminders:
  1. Your time is the best gift you can give. – In your relationships with others, nothing you can give is more appreciated than your sincere, focused attention.  It is indeed one of the most valuable things you can contribute to any relationship.  Being with someone, listening without a clock and without anticipation of results, teaches you about love.  In other words, the success of love is in the loving – it is not in the result of loving.  So don’t listen with an agenda or the intent to reply.  Hear what is being said with the intent to truly understand.  Read The 5 Love Languages.
  2. You have the power to make a big difference. – Everyone in life wants to be loved and accepted.  Your greatest achievements in life will be the direct result of finding this love and acceptance within yourself, andradiating it out to those around you.  So believe in your power to make a difference.  You truly are far more influential than you realize.  In each moment that you connect with another, you have the opportunity to etch a loving, inspiring memory into their minds forever.
  3. What makes us different is what makes us special. – Don’t be too quick to judge others (friends or otherwise) or bully them for being different.  And don’t put up with those who call you “a friend” and then judge and bully you.  Respect originality.  Welcome originality.  Be original.  Let go of the foolish need to prove yourself to everyone else, and you’ll free yourself to accomplish what matters most to you.  Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you don’t have to always be and do what everyone else is being and doing.  Be sure to remind your friends of this too, and support them as they pave their own path.
  4. Love is meant to be shared. – So many people save their ‘loving.’  They consciously avoid putting their heart into their relationships, surrendering, opening up, and sharing, because they want to save it all for the right people (best friends, lovers, etc.) and passions.  But the problem is when the right people or passions come along they don’t realize it, they don’t know how to open up, and they don’t know anything about the act of loving.
  5. You have to love yourself too. – The best thing you can do to improve the quality of your relationships is to work on loving and healing yourself.  It’s not the fact that you’re feeling angry, disgusted, helpless, anxious, defeated, or fearful that’s the problem.  The problems arise when you’re unaware of what you’re feeling and why – when you don’t know how or when to calm yourself down, pick yourself up, change your thoughts, and let go of the emotions that are prolonging your suffering.  Because when you lose control of these things, you end up losing your temper and taking your negative emotions out on those you care about most.  Read The Mastery of Love.
  6. Praise and recognition matters. – Give genuine praise.  Recognizing the contributions of others is a mighty act of service.  This is an investment in them that doesn’t cost you a thing, and the returns can be amazing.  Be sure to follow this rule: “Praise in public, penalize in private.”  Never publicly ridicule someone you care about.  Even in a disagreement there is an opportunity to be a guiding light, and restore happiness to the relationship, if you speak the truth out of love to help another learn and grow.
  7. Small gestures of kindness go a long way. – It seems like such a small thing, but in our busy lives we often forget that a kind word, a helping hand, or just a smile and a quick “thank you” can create a bright spot in another person’s life.  And the best part is, when you help those around you smile, their smiles will help you smile too.
  8. Without honesty there is no friendship. – Honesty is the first chapter in the book of all wisdom.  Honesty is the only path forward.  It’s always better to tell people the truth up front.  So don’t play games with people’s heads and hearts.  Telling the truth and making someone cry is better than telling a lie and making someone smile.  Speak and live the truth – the whole truth – all day, every day.  Read The Four Agreements.
  9. Loyalty means the world. – True love and real friendship aren’t about being inseparable.  These relationships are about two people being true to each other even when they are separated.  When it comes to relationships, remaining faithful is never an option, but an obligation.
  10. Reaching out and staying in touch is important. – Stay in touch with those who matter to you, not because it’s convenient, but because they’re worth the extra effort.  Remember, you don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.  Paying attention to these people is always a priority.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Top 11 “Diet” Foods That Make You Fat Instead of Thin

Watch out healthy ones! Or those who really watches what they eat...I specially believe the fruit juice bit, there is too much sugar in them...

Courtesy of Authority Nutrition

Nutrition is full of all sorts of lies, myths and misconceptions.
What people believe to be true is often the exact opposite of the truth.
Here are 11 “diet” foods that are actually making people fatter.

1. Breakfast Cereals

So-called “healthy” cereals are the worst foods you can possibly eat at the start of the day.
They are usually loaded with sugar and refined carbs, which are some of the most fattening ingredients in existence (12).
Starting your day off with a processed cereal will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels. When your blood sugar crashes a few hours later, your body will call for another snack high in refined carbs (3).
This is the blood sugar roller coaster that is familiar to people on high-carb diets.
Seriously… READ the label. Most breakfast cereals, even those with health claims like “low-fat” or “whole grain” on the package, are usually loaded with sugar.
If you’re hungry in the morning, eat breakfast… but choose something unprocessed and that has protein in it (like eggs and veggies).
If you really must eat cereal for breakfast, find one that doesn’t include sugar or highly refined grains.
Bottom Line: Most commercial breakfast cereals are high in sugar and refined carbs, which are highly fattening and extremely unhealthy.

2. Agave Nectar

Agave nectar (or Agave syrup) is often marketed as a natural alternative to sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
The problem with Agave, is that it is not healthy at all. If anything, it is even worse than sugar.
One of the main reasons sugar is so unhealthy, is that it contains excessive amounts of the simple sugar fructose.
Whereas sugar contains 50% fructose, Agave contains as much as 70-90%!
Of course, small amounts of fructose from fruit are fine, but consuming excessive amounts from added sugars can have devastating effects on metabolic health (4).
High amounts of fructose can cause insulin resistance and chronically elevated levels of the fat storing hormone insulin (56).
It can also cause high triglycerides, elevated blood sugars, harmful effects on your cholesterol, abdominal obesity and a ton of other metabolic problems (7).
If you think you’re doing your body a favor by replacing sugar with Agave, think again. You’re actually making things worse.
Instead, use a natural sweetener that is low in fructose.
Bottom Line: Agave is even higher in fructose than sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Excessive fructose consumption is strongly associated with obesity and all sorts of metabolic diseases.

3. Whole Wheat Bread

Whole wheat is often recommended as a healthy alternative to refined wheat.
Man With a Stack of Bread Slices
Well… it’s true. Whole wheat is, at the very least, “less bad” than refined wheat.
But one of the main problem with most whole grain foods, is that they aren’t made from actual whole grains. It is a marketing ploy.
Almost without exception, the grains have been pulverized into very fine flour that is just as easily digestible and spikes blood sugar just as fast as the refined grains.
In fact, whole wheat bread has a glycemic index (a measure of how quickly foods spike blood sugar) that is just as high as regular white bread (8).
Whole wheat bread might contain a little more fiber and some more nutrients, but there really isn’t much difference when it hits your system.
Plus, there really is NO nutrient in wheat (whole or refined) that you can’t get in even greater amounts from other foods.
There are some grains out there that seem to be healthy for people who can tolerate them, but wheat definitely does NOT belong in that category.
Many studies show that wheat (even “heart-healthy” whole wheat) can lead to health problems, especially in people who are sensitive to gluten (91011).
Bottom Line: Whole wheat bread is usually not made with actual whole grains. It spikes blood sugar just as fast as white bread and can contribute to various health problems.

4. Granola

Granola Bars
If granola is made with real ingredients, it certainly can be healthy.
But it suffers from the same problem as most other “health foods.”
When the food manufacturers start mass producing them, they alter them in a way that they aren’t healthy anymore.
Granola contains some healthy ingredients like oats and nuts, but when you add sugar and oil to it and combine it in a package that encourages overconsumption, then it isn’t healthy anymore.
Bottom Line: Granola is often highly processed and contains added sugar and oil. It is very energy dense and easy to overconsume.

5. Low Fat Yogurt

Yogurt is often considered to be a healthy food… and it is.
But the problem is that most yogurt found in stores islow-fat yogurt… which is highly processed garbage.
When food manufacturers remove the fat from foods, they taste terrible. That’s why they add a whole bunch of other stuff to compensate for the lack of fat.
In the case of yogurt, they usually add sugar, high fructose corn syrup or some kind of artificial sweetener.
But new studies are showing that saturated fat is actually harmless… so low-fat yogurt has had the good stuff removed, only to be replaced with something that ismuch, much worse (1213).
There is also no evidence that dairy fat contributes to obesity. In fact, one study showed that people who ate the most high-fat dairy products were the least likely to become obese (14)!
So… eat real, full-fat yogurt, but avoid low-fat yogurt like the plague.
Bottom Line: Low-fat yogurt is yogurt that has had the good stuff (saturated fat) removed, only to be replaced with something much worse, like sugar.

6. Commercial Salad Dressings

Salad Dressing
Vegetables are very healthy. They’re loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, soluble fiber and various goodies.
For this reason, salads are usually very healthy meals.
However, a lot of people don’t like the bland taste of vegetables, so they add dressing to their salads.
The problem with most commercial dressings is that they’re made with nasty ingredients like soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup.
It is much better to make your own dressing. Something with extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and some spices is a much healthier option.
Obviously, salad dressings can also be very high in calories and it is easy to consume a lot of them, which can be a major problem.
Bottom Line: Most commercial salad dressings contain unhealthy ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil. It is much better to make your own.

7. Fruit Juices

Young Woman Drinking Orange Juice
Fruit juice is often perceived as healthy… it comes from fruit, right?
Well, not always. Sometimes “fruit juice” is actually just fruit flavored sugar water.
There may not even be any actual fruit in there… it may just be water, sugar and some chemicals that taste like fruit.
But even IF you can get your hands on real, 100% fruit juice, you still shouldn’t be drinking it (or at least not much).
The problem with fruit juice, is that it’s like fruit except with all of the good stuff taken out.
Whole fruits do contain some sugar, but it is bound within the fibrous cell walls, which slows down the release of the sugar into the bloodstream.
But fruit juice is different… there’s no fiber, no chewing resistance and nothing to stop you from downing massive amounts of sugar in a matter of seconds. One cup of orange juice contains almost as much sugar as two whole oranges (1516).
The sugar content of fruit juice is actually very similar to sugar-sweetened beverages like Coca Cola.
So… eat whole fruit, but avoid fruit juice if you’re trying to lose weight.
Bottom Line: Fruit juice is high in sugar, but has no fiber. It is very easy to consume massive amounts of sugar from fruit juice.

8. Diet Soft Drinks

Soda Bottles
One of the easiest changes for many people to make, is to replace sugar-sweetened beverages with diet soda.
This is an effective way to reduce both sugar and calories in the diet.
However… the studies don’t support that this leads to actual weight loss. People who replace sugary soda with diet soda don’t end up weighing less (17).
The reason may be that artificial sweeteners can stimulate the appetite in some people. Even though the sweeteners themselves are calorie free, they may make you eat more of other foods (181920).
That being said, a lot of people can lose weight drinking diet soda, but that’s probably because they’re changing a bunch of other things as well.
As with most things, this depends on the individual. On its own, just switching to diet soda is unlikely to help and may even make things worse for some people.
Bottom Line: Artificially sweetened beverages contain no sugar and no calories, but some studies show that they can stimulate the appetite.

9. “Organic” Processed Foods

Woman Eating a Cereal Bar
Organic whole foods are excellent, but processed organic foods are not.
When you look at the ingredients labels for many of these organic, “healthy” meal replacement bars, crackers, snacks, etc… then you see that they really aren’t that much different from other processed foods.
Sure, they might contain Organic Cane Sugar instead of regular sugar… but organic sugar is just as bad as regular sugar. Your liver won’t tell the difference.
So… eat whole, single ingredient foods (organic if you can afford it) but avoid organic processed foods.
Bottom Line: Even though organic whole foods are healthy, a lot of organic but processed foods are made with unhealthy ingredients like sugar.

10. Trail Mixes

Trail Mix
Trail mixes usually contain dried fruit, nuts or peanuts, sometimes along with some chocolate and grains.
This is a very energy dense snack. The dried fruit has a lot of concentrated sugar and the nuts are loaded with fat in a dense package.
For this reason, it is excellent when you need a lot of energy… such as when you’re hiking.
However, most people today are NOT suffering from a lack of energy.
Trail mixes are high-carb AND high-fat at the same time, which is a terriblecombination if you are trying to lose weight.
Bottom Line: Trail mixes are very energy dense and are an excellent snack for people who need energy. However, they are high in both carbs and fat at the same time, which is a bad combination if weight loss is your goal.

11. Gluten Free Junk Foods

Gluten free is very popular these days.
According to one 2013 survey, a third of Americans are actively trying to reduce the amount of gluten in their diets.
The food manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon and brought all sorts of gluten-free replacement products to the markets.
The problem is that they are usually just as bad as their gluten containing counterparts.
These foods are usually made with highly refined carbohydrates, sugar and various chemicals.
If you’re going to eliminate gluten, then choose foods that are naturally gluten free (like plants and animals)… NOT processed gluten-free foods.
Junk food with “gluten free” on the label is still junk food.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ranking The Best Muscle Building Exercises: From Beast To Least

For the serious weight lifters...

It's time to sort through your muscle building workout routine and see if your exercise selection suck. This article will rate movements from beast to least.
It's time to tune up your training routine. This article will rate exercises for each muscle group from "beast" to "least." Here is the scale:
  • Beast - Typically a compound exercise that allows the use of heavier weight, provides a long term opportunity for progressive overload, and has a reputation for yielding big results.
  • Better - Not the most potent movements on the block but still very effective and can build plenty of muscle mass. A good choice to further punish a muscle after the hard work has been done.
  • Least - These exercises should only be used to end a body part workout, or when no other options exist. Typically "least" exercises do not allow for much progressive overload, and/or offer little bang for your buck.
To maximize the muscle building process, you need to make better choices. Start by looking at your current training routine to see if it's peppered with a fair amount of beast exercises. I recommend at least 2 beast exercises per major muscle group, per week, and at least one beast exercise per minor muscle group, per week.
Beast exercise recommendation
  • Major muscle groups: 2 beast exercises per week. Major muscle groups include back, shoulders, chest and quads.
  • Minor muscle groups: 1 beast exercise per week. Minor muscle groups include hamstrings, triceps, biceps, calves, abs, and traps.
For the back, I typically recommend 3 beast exercises per week. It is good to have a deadlift variation, heavy row, and some sort of pull up or inverted row. You may also choose to use 3 beast mode exercises for quads each week.
After the insertion of beast mode movements, it's now time to consider the rest of your exercises. If you are using any movements found in the "least" category, consider removing them and swapping in a "better" category lift. Only use "least" category movements when you have no other options, or to finish off a muscle group after a hard workout.
Each section below contains exercise recommendations for each body part. They are minimum, but reasonable recommendations. If you want to add in another exercise for major body parts per week because you feel it's necessary, have at it.
Bench Press
Chest exercises: beast to least
  • Split training weekly minimum recommendation - 2 beast exercises, 1 better exercise and 1 least exercise.
  • Full body weekly minimum recommendation - 2 beast exercises, 1 better or least exercise.
It should be no shocker that the bench press (and variations) are at the top of the list. Dips fall into thebeast category as well. They were once considered the "upper body squat", and should not be dismissed.
You will also notice that I rank exercises such as machine bench presses above dumbbell flyes and cable crossovers. Understand that I am not telling you to never use these "least" exercises. My main point is to choose the beast and better movements first.
If you want to finish off your workout with flyes, pec dec or crossovers, have at it. You've already destroyed your chest, so a finisher using a least exercise won't be a bad thing at all.
  • Beast - Bench press, incline bench press, dips, dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press.
  • Better - Machine bench press, decline bench press, Smith machine bench press.
  • Least - Dumbbell flyes, cable crossovers, pec dec, push ups.

Shoulder exercises: beast to least

  • Split training weekly minimum recommendation - 1-2 beast exercises, 1 better exercise and 1 least exercise.
  • Full body weekly minimum recommendation - 1 beast exercise, 1 better exercise and 1 least exercise.
Most trainees give a half-hearted effort on shoulder training day. Make sure you blast your shoulders with at least some form of heavy dumbbell or barbell press before moving on to upright rows or Arnold presses.
Front delts are hammered hard during chest training and require no real direct work. You're better and beast exercises will do a good job blasting your side delts, so if you do use a least exercise, consider bent over reverse flyes.
  • Beast - Military press, seated barbell press, seated dumbbell press, clean and press.
  • Better - Upright rows, seated Arnold press, machine shoulder press, Smith machine shoulder press.
  • Least - Side laterals, cable laterals, bent over reverse flyes.
Dumbbell Rows

Back exercises: beast to least

  • Split training weekly minimum recommendation - 3 beast exercises, 1 better exercise. 
  • Full body weekly minimum recommendation - 2 beast exercises, 1 better or least exercise.
Beast exercises should include a row, pull and deadlift variation. I recommend starting your workout with the deadlift variation. You can choose either deadlifts, low rack pulls, the low rack pull and power shrug combo, or snatch grip deadlifts.
Next add in a row and a pull. Use barbell or dumbbell rows and pull ups or inverted rows.
Pick a better exercise that you enjoy, or that addresses a weak body part. Least back exercises have little value. Avoid them at all costs unless you have no other options.
  • Beast - Deadlift, low rack pulls, pull ups, inverted rows, dumbbell rows, barbell rows, low rack pull and power shrug combo, snatch grip deadlifts.
  • Better - Seated cable rows, lat pull downs, machine rows, T-bar rows, chest supported rows.
  • Least - One arm cable row, one arm Smith machine row.

Quad exercises: beast to least

  • Split training weekly minimum recommendation - 2 beast exercises, 1-2 better exercise. Least exercises optional.
  • Full body weekly minimum recommendation - 2 beast exercises, 1 better or least exercise.
Quads are a no-brainer. Squats are the king of all barbell exercises. Do them. After squats add in front squats or leg presses. You can also add in paused-squats after your main squat workout is complete, but be warned - they are the holy bringer of DOMS (muscle soreness).
After your squat-o-thon, pick assistance exercises that fit your needs and available equipment. I happen to like leg extensions, as did Tom Platz, so if you do utilize a least exercise it gets my vote.
  • Beast - Squats, front squats, leg press, pause squats.
  • Better - Lunges, hack squats, goblet squats, jumping squats, overhead squat.
  • Least - Leg extensions, dumbbell step ups, Smith squats.
Step Ups

Hamstring exercises: beast to least

  • Split training weekly minimum recommendation - 1-2 beast exercises, 1 better exercise.
  • Full body weekly minimum recommendation - 1 beast exercise, 1 better exercise.
Hamstrings are the red-headed step child muscle group of bodybuilding. Too many gym rats throw in a couple of hamstring movements but give them a half-assed effort. Don't do this. You need to build and strengthen both your quads AND hamstrings.
Really any combination of beast and better exercises will do. Try them out, see which you prefer, and get crazy strong on them.
Least hamstring exercises typically suck, so I would avoid them unless you are out of options.
  • Beast - Stiff leg deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, glute ham raises, reverse hack squats.
  • Better - Leg curls, good mornings.
  • Least - Dumbbell leg curls, lying cable hamstring curls, Smith machine stiff leg deadlift.

Traps exercises: beast to least

  • Split training weekly minimum recommendation - 1-2 beast exercises, 1 better exercise.
  • Full body weekly minimum recommendation - 1 beast exercise, 1 better exercise.
I have to be honest here...I've never seen natural lifters build quality traps using only mind-muscle connection, controlled bodybuilding style movements. In my opinion the traps need heavy weight and/or explosive reps.
My traps really started to come in when I began focusing on power shrugs and deadlifts. Explosive Olympic style lifts like cleans are a good addition to this equation. I also prefer upright rows as the final nail in the traps building coffin when I don't feel like going too heavy on a given day.
  • Beast - Power shrugs, barbell shrugs, power cleans.
  • Better - Upright rows, dumbbell shrugs, behind the back barbell shrugs.
  • Least - Cable shrugs, cable upright row, seated dumbbell shrugs.
Push Ups

Triceps exercises: beast to least

  • Split training weekly minimum recommendation - 1-2 beast exercises, 1 better exercise.
  • Full body weekly minimum recommendation - 1 beast exercise, 1-2 better.
You can never have enough triceps strength. Focus on the big hitting exercises as much as possible. Then and only then, when your triceps are trashed, should you add in better or least exercises.
The triceps are worked hard during the week from bench and shoulder pressing movements, so there is no real need to perform an excessive amount of direct tricep work. With that said, you should still focus on quality when you do hit this muscle group.
  • Beast - Close grip bench press, dips, two arm seated dumbbell extensions.
  • Better - Skullcrushers, cable tricep extensions, bench dips, French press, seated single arm dumbbell extension, Tate press.
  • Least - Dumbbell kickbacks, cable tricep kickbacks, diamond push ups, overhead pulley extensions.

Biceps exercises: beast to least

  • Split training weekly minimum recommendation - 1-2 beast exercises, 1 better exercise or 1 least exercise.
  • Full body weekly minimum recommendation - 2 beast exercises, 1 better or least exercise.
We all know most gym rats overtrain their biceps. Please don't do this. The biceps are one of the smallest muscle groups in the body. You don't need to hit them with 40 sets each week.
If you can, make chin ups a staple. Understand there is a difference between chin ups and pull ups. Chin ups are performed with your palms toward your face. Pull ups are palms away from the face.
  • Beast - Chin ups, dumbbell curls, barbell curls, EZ bar curls.
  • Better - Pull ups, preacher curls, hammer curls, barbell drag curl, machine curls.
  • Least - Concentration curls, cable curls, Zottman curl.
Bicep Curl

Calves exercises: beast to least

  • Split training weekly minimum recommendation - 1-2 beast exercises, 1 better exercise or 1 least exercise.
  • Full body weekly minimum recommendation - 2 beast exercises, 1 better or least exercise.
If I had a dollar for everyone that complained their calves wouldn't grow, I'd have a lot of dollars. The problem, as I see it, is that most lifters rarely attack calf exercise progression with rabid intensity.
Try this...using lifting straps, hold a barbell in front of you like you were going to shrug. Instead, perform standing calf raises. Try 3-5 sets of 8 reps, adding weight each workout as long as your reps are quality. See just how strong you can get on this movement.
Jump squats are another amazing calf building option. Give them a try.
  • Beast - Standing barbell calf raises, jump squats, donkey calf raises.
  • Better - Seated calf raise, leg press calf press, standing machine calf press, hack squat calf raises, 
  • Least - Standing one leg dumbbell calf raise, seated barbell calf raises, Smith machine calf raises.

Abs exercises: beast to least

  • Split training weekly minimum recommendation - 1-2 beast exercises, 1 better exercise or 1 least exercise.
  • Full body weekly minimum recommendation - 1-2 beast exercises, 1 better exercise or 1 least exercise.
If your ab workouts consist of 1,042 crunches per day, please stop the violence. Add non-spinal flexion core work as a staple. After you finish hitting your abs with planks and/or roll outs, then move on to something with resistance like cable crunches or weighed sit ups.
  • Beast - Ab wheel roll outs, barbell roll outs, planks, side planks.
  • Better - Weighted sit ups, decline sit ups, bench jack knife, chair knee raise, hanging knee raise, cable crunch.
  • Least - Crunches, decline bench knee raise, lying floor leg raise, Russian twist.